Dutch Bjorn Kuipers was forced to bring a halt to proceedings in the fourth minute as a torrential downpour and lightening pounded the Donbass Arena and the pitch soon became unplayable amid concerns over the safety of the players and fans. Play resumed an hour later but it took until the second half for France to make the breakthrough as Jeremy Menez scored from close range on 53 minutes before Yohan Cabaye sealed the win three minutes later with a neat finish. It was harsh on Ukraine who had chances of their own but paid the price for poor defending on both goals and must home England are held by Sweden to keep their hopes of progressing to the quarter finals ahead of their meeting with Roy Hodgson’s men on Tuesday.
Once the weather had calmed and the game was able to get underway but the delay didn’t seem to effect Laurent Blanc’s side as Karim Benzema tested Andriy Pyatov. Menez then thought he’d opened the scoring in the 16th minute after converting Frank Ribery’s pass but had strayed into an offside position before blasting over after being teed up by Ribery again before. A third chance came Menez’s way mid-way through the half as Ribery seized upon Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s weak backpass and crossed for the winger who could only shoot straight at Pyatov’s legs.
Ukraine’s first clear sight of goal came in the 34th minute but Andriy Shevchenko couldn’t repeat his heroics of the win against Sweden lashing a half volley straight at Hugo Lloris after stealing in behind Adel Rami. Pyatov then ensured they would go in at halftime on level terms keeping out Phillipe Mexes’ header from Samir Nasri’s free kick. But he was beaten eight minutes after the break as Menez latched onto Benezema pass, drifted inside Yevhen Selin on the right and lashed a low effort inside the near post to give France the lead. That was doubled just three minutes later and Benzema was again the provider playing in Cabaye and the Newcastle man kept his composure to strike a low shot across Pyatov and into the bottom corner.
A wonderful spell of fluid passing and movement ended with Cabaye cracking a fierce right footed volley off the post whilst Ukraine posed little threat to Les Bleus’ lead to win their first game in nine at a major tournament and put them in pole position to qualify from Group D ahead of their game with Sweden on Tuesday.